Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his sons don’t have to face a shareholder challenge to the $82.4 million in bonuses they got when selling Fox’s film and TV assets to Walt Disney Co. for $71.6 billion, a Delaware judge ruled Friday.
“The critical deficiency in the complaint is the lack of any factual allegations suggesting a causal link between the Murdochs’ receipt of the challenged compensation awards and any unfair dealing,” Chancellor Andre G. Bouchard wrote, noting that the transaction followed “a heated bidding contest between Disney and Comcast.”
In addition to the Murdochs, the Chancery Court lawsuit targeted the compensation committee of Twenty-First Century Fox, which spun off its news, sports, and broadcasting businesses into Fox Corp. last year and sold the rest of its assets to Disney a day later in one of the largest megamergers ever.
It accused the board of breaching its duties to public investors by giving Rupert, Lachlan, and James Murdoch eight-figure stock grants as part of an “incentive award” program for senior executives.
Their $11.7 billion worth of stock already gave them ample “incentive” to seek the most lucrative possible terms from Disney, the suit claimed.